Can you learn to sing with a singing app? I wanted to find out if this is possible - and if so: what are great singing apps (or: vocal training apps) for both iOS and Android?
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What defines the best singing apps?
- Any vocal training app has to warm up your voice properly. For that, it needs a good build-up. In other words, it has to start small, with consonants or trills and with short range exercises. And slowly build up from there to closed and open vowels and wider range.
- It would also be nice if the singing app had good vocal technique guidance.
- And finally, it should be easy to use.
(Disclaimer: some of the apps may have affiliate links attached to them. HOWEVER: My order of action is: first reviewing the app and ranking it, then reach out to the creator for comments/feedback. Only after reviewing and ranking the app do I ask for an affiliate link, if they give one. I don't recommend tools I don't believe are good.)
Word of warning about learning to sing with apps
Can these singing apps function as your online singing teacher? In other words, can they be complete learn-to-sing apps? How do these apps hold up compared to other online singing tools, such as an online singing course or online singing lessons?
Short answer: sorry but in the grand scheme of singing practice these vocal training apps are not enough. Crucially, vocal warm-up is what you should do before each session, like an athlete. It pains me to say that I didn't find an app that's good enough in terms of vocal warm-up. Some apps are good at build-up. For example, starting with short range exercises, moving to wider range exercises. However, I didn't find a singing app that did the warm-up well in all aspects.
If you need vocal guidance, no app I saw can stand on itself and guide you. They won't give you a plan on how to improve.
BUT - IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING, use these singing apps for:
- Inspiration for exercise repertoire.
- Some also have good build-up.
- Some track your progress, some your pitch.
- Some give you good tips and even videos.
My review of all singing apps
Erol singer's studio
- By: Erol Studios.
- Free+upgrade options
- 4.8 stars - ~2K ratings.
- Upgrade: €1.99 per week; 7.49 per month or 54.99 per year. Will grant you more posture tutorials and more exercises.
High credit is due to Erol's singing studio
Before diving into the review, you should know that Erol is one of the only singing apps that replied to my reaching out and questions. But they did more than reply. The developer communicated with me directly, and immediately prioritized making changes according to the feedback in my original review.
This is an edited review, based on the improved version. Biggest change has to do with the actual warm-up build-up, which you know is very important to me.
The app helps you find your vocal range: shows keyboard and the different voice types, you can also record to detect your range. This is the first app I found which helps you find your range! Kodus.
Here's the developer's own words explaining the range detector:
"When the app says “Say a steady ‘ahhh’ in your normal voice”, make sure you use your normal speaking voice. This will be used as your comfortable starting note for most exercises... After that, you can set your highest and lowest notes as usual (without pushing/straining your voice for either)."
Improvement Erol has made:
Now Erol's app starts the exercises from the comfortable note in your range (determined by your natural speaking voice). This is ideal.
There is an animated demonstration - that’s super awesome. They even show the internal anatomy of the lungs and ribs!
First exercise is a long S, exhale exercise. They show with a man figure how to do it.
I don’t entirely agree with the technical wording there - but that’s ok. This is a support issue and not all teachers agree on that. Then they count the seconds for you! Very handy, engaging and fun to do.
- There is no audio. Only text. I, personally, can't read fast enough to keep up. However, you can pause any time.
- The principles of the posture are correct, but to achieve them is not as simple as instructing them. So this app will not really teach you how to achieve the right posture, only what it is.
- There are 4 lessons in this chapter, and only one for free.
Upside, and a big one:
- This is the only app teaching posture at all. Plus, it’s really nice that they don’t put all of it behind a pay wall, instead they make you work for it.
You can also mark exercises as favorites. Exercises can be edited, you can change the syllables you sing, the notes, even the notes themselves. The editing feature is in the paid version, which makes sense, you pay to custum the exercises to yourself.
Here's where I have seen good changes.
First exercise is long S, then speaking on one note. Good start, we don't jump straight into open vowels and wide ranges.
The exercises have written instructions, and are demonstrated by a female or a male voice. Then you see the notes on the screen and the tracking of your voice while you sing. Sometimes the instructions go by too fast for me to read.
Then you have 2 small groups of exercises you can play and sing along, and the build-up is good, simple exercises, most of which only 5-note range, perfect. Some involve siren noises which I also love.
The next groups of exercises are a part of an affordable subscription.
Some tips along the way as you warm up are good.
Another upgrade - guiding your progress but not stressing
Erol use to have a quite accurate measurement of the pitch, and required a score of 3 stars in order to move on to the next level. Those requirements are now somewhat elevated, in such a way that will help you not over sing, or go to a high level before you are ready AND That you can follow your pitch, but not be pressured to use tension to correct it.
Being able to play your recording back is helpful and I learned from it. It is not obvious right away how to do this, though.
- You can skip to the note you want, but the exercise will not continue playing after that, but will go back to the start.
- They instruct you to do something, not teach you how. that's common to many apps I've seen. That could be due to the compactness of the app concept. It should be short and sweet, not elaborated. I can understand that, but that makes it a supplementary tool for learning, not a self-sufficient one.
- Only app which teaches posture!
- Pitch detector is useful for pitch awareness
Easy to use
Verdict Erol singer's studio
Pretty good - ALMOST the real deal!
You get more guidance, vocal safety and fun than anywhere else
First thing to learn about singing is warming up the voice!
Followed by multiple tutorials for all vocal skills
- By: Hector Ricardo
- 4.0 stars ~1K ratings
Another singing app which records you to determine your range - yay! There is an option to manually select a voice type, play the range notes on a keyboard or record. I recommend to record!
This app is the is one of the only apps with a good exercise build-up. They start with short range and slowly expand the range and difficulty. You can have a whole routine in a major scale, then they have all of those exercises in a minor scale.
A couple of pentatonic exercises (great for pop/jazz improv - unique!) and chromatic. You can also learn the intervals and practice singing them. That’s fantastic.
Then there are some more chromatic exercises and some ear training exercises (which can also be used to warm up).
All in all - wonderful variety of different exercises and sequences.
If you use those starting on consonants and gradually moving to closed and open vowels - this is the safest sequence suggestion on a vocal app so far.
While doing an exercise you can easily forward and rewind (to skip to anywhere in the range), change the speed, and choose between: ascending then descending; descending then ascending; only ascending; only descending.
- When you play an exercise, the first note you get from the app is distorted and unpleasant on the ears. This is new, when I first reviewed the app that didn't happen.
- Wireless headphones don't work in this app.
- There is no indication on what consonant/vowel one should sing the exercise on. Not everyone knows how best to use consonants/vowels in the exercise build up. Even a guideline saying that you better start with a trill or a consonant would be nice, but indication would make this app super useful.
- Technical guidance is necessary if one wants to go about vocalising safely. There is no guidance on the exercises what so ever.
- There's no one to talk to on the other end. No customer support or help options.
- No indication which sound to use on exercise
Easy to use
The upside of the exercise variety and build up compensate for all the problems!
- By: VELDEN LLC.
- 4.1 stars - 1.4K ratings
- Free+Pro upgrade option for € 4.49
The general instruction is to sing as low/high as comfortable. A good piece of advice! Downside: monotonous talking, not personalised.
This part of the app is easily overlooked. I skipped it because I didn’t think there would be practice material there. On second visit I realized you have an entire section of singing basics in it:
- General inspiration about the voice
- Breathing exercises for stamina and support (really good BTW)
- Vocal Health do’s and don’ts
- Pitch exercises - not a fan. They encourage you to hold the note for a long time, and consciously correct the pitch. Most times holding a note actively might activate the wrong muscles and create more tension and less pitch control.
- Explanation about tone of voice
- Explanation about the scales
- Explanation about Range (better put: vocal registration, which not all teachers agree upon. Personally I don't share their view on registration).
YOU NEED A HEADSET TO HEAR THE MUSIC
They demonstrate what to sing before you are accepted to sing, which is good. They also track how many times you practiced, also good. You can control when the exercise goes higher and lower, very good!
Some consonants are pronounced with a glottal stop in the beginning of it, which might be aggressive on the vocal cords..
For other levels you have to upgrade. You can create a custom routine for free, but to use it you will need to upgrade.
A handy feature. You can choose the exercise, the speed and the key and it will start it for you. Then you also choose the syllable/consonant on which you sing the exercise. So that helps you custom-make your own routine, which is also possible through the app.
This is great if you have a routine from your teacher or you made one up for yourself, you can compose it in the app and have it on hand.
Here you make up your own exercises. Simple to use, and good fun! Once you compose a scale it will be added to the scale section.
I’m missing the option to write long notes. Composing is free, but you cannot use the scale you have created unless you upgrade.
*I think it’s worth it to upgrade in order to use the self created scales and routines.
I think it’s super cool. As a teacher I can share routines I created with my students. You can choose the scales and routines or create them on the spot, then share them on via email (apple mail in my case, which I don’t use), FB or Twitter. On android they give a ton of other options!
- Practice tracking
- Composing and sharing of exercises
- Worth the upgrade
- Compelled vocal range labelling
- Limited sharing options on ios
Easy to use
Exercise build up
If singing apps are not enough
- what is?
All the exercises pre-recorded, plus personal guidance: Singdaptive
- A web app with real teachers
- You film yourself - they film back - no appointments necessary!
speaking about apps...
An app is a tool that can only make you a better singer when integrated into a system. I have such a system. For all who feel overwhelmed by all there is to learn about singing.
Includes 2 personal feedback analyses
Voco Vocal Coach
- By: Seaview Media LTD
- Android version available through baixarapk.gratis
- Existing rating: 4 stars - 20 ratings
- Free+Upgrade options: €5.99 per exercise collection (11-19 tracks); €2.49 per demo collection (27 demos)
The first thing you see on this singing app is the category: Tracks. It's 5 exercises written in music notes, then plays to you so you can sing along.
As this is the beginning of the app - I would expect this to be a warm up. But it is not. 3 first exercises are an octave in range, so for me, that's too wide. The app plays it for you with a piano sound, no vocal demonstration or syllable indication.
What you can do with the tracks:
You can record yourself. Skip to the note you want and it does continue to play. Change the tempo, pause. You can also take notes for every exercise.
Playlists: Here's where the warm-ups are at
10 exercises, now starting with a more normal range - a fifth - and telling you which sounds to make. No demonstration. You still get all the options and features you got in the tracks.
Short melodies sung by singers, then you record yourself and can listen back, what they call “compare”.
This is fun, but I'm not sure what the purpose of it is, other than playfulness - which is great and important! I guess it is a fun way to practice learning melodies.
Here you can play back everything you have recorded into the app: exercises or demos
They give you different voice types and their ranges and ask you to indicate which one you are. The ranges given are not necessarily correct. So you should know for sure what your voice type is - i consider that problematic. Most self-taught singers don't know their vocal range or their voice type, and I would argue it takes freeing up the voice to really know.
Good news is, you can manually adjust your range, but that can only be done if you know musical notes and what your range is.
Verdict Voco Vocal Coach
Waste of time, with potential to being kinda good!
The stuff in here is not bad, but I've seen better delivery and guidance, so there it is.
- By: Learn-to-Sing Music Education & Karaoke Inc.
- Android version available through baixarapk.gratis.
- Existing rating: 4.4 stars - 9.4K ratings.
- Free+Upgrade options: membership of 3, 6 or 12 months for €5.49, €8.99 or € 10.99 respectively. Provides add free, ear and music training, extra exercises and custom notebars.
The Vocals feature is a scale of notes. You can play any note by pressing it. Then when you sing it shows you if you’re correct/sharp/flat. Fun to play around with.
When you sing a note, the needle will go to the note you sang on the scale and show it, but the font of the notes is tiny and difficult to read. There is a REC button which is not active.
They show you on the scale (note name only) lines of different lengths, and play the exercise for you. You don't know what the exercise is in advance. You are expected to sing simultaneously, without a demonstration. Then you are given a grade (up to 100%).
The biggest bummer is: they will grade you from the first second, so it’s very hard to get a good score. They will lower your grade for singing an inaccurate length of the note or if you have vibrato. That is not motivating at all! When following the exercise rather well I still only got 87%.
It was very discouraging seeing the “needle” showing my vibrato as if I sing out of tune. Singing in a straight tone helped the score, but one should know how to do that without straining. Also sometimes it decided that my voice jumped an octave down, which was definitely not the case.
I sang the most advanced exercise accurately and only got 42%. It went up pretty high, so If you have a certain voice type which doesn’t go all the way up I suppose that will lower your score even further.
The first 2 exercises are more like an accuracy test than a vocal warm up. They don’t warm you up across the range, but they are short and only repeat once. Then the third and forth are warm up exercises. Two exercises in total you can warm up with. There are apparently new exercises coming up.
This is sort of a karaoke feature. It’s fun, but same issue with no heads up or note before you start. There is no countdown, but you can see where the line is coming up, and you are supposed to sing on the line. There are only 3 tunes that are free. For the rest you need to get Apple Music (or equivalent in android).
After every song or exercise there's an advertisement. Sometimes it's for smule, which is a karaoke app. I am thinking people will just flood there and leave this app behind.
Shows you the dates and length of your practice sessions - nice. You also get sometimes notifications which remind you to check out new songs or practice.
Available only for members. I confess I am not tempted at all to become a member, since the free version was not helpful, motivating or even handy.
Verdict Perfect Pitch
Waste of time
Vocal Ease 2
- By: Arnold McCuller
- $0.99 on iOs; $1.99 on Android
- 4.4 stars - 470 ratings.
They declare this voice training app is for use in the car or on the go. It shouldn’t replace your teacher.
Some technical advice is given right off the bat: palate up, larynx down, feeling of a yawn or a sneeze. I don’t agree with all of it, but OK.
Here is the best part
The warm up exercises are in a form of audio guide, done obviously by the voice teacher himself - I like that! This guy, Arnold, gives a nice, cool atmosphere and made me smile quite a few times. This approach of him recording homey, personalized guides is wonderful.
This app is actually quite handy. You can press play and roll with it, hands free, it will autoplay and you will feel like he is talking directly to you with his charming personality. So this indeed delivers on the car-friendly promise. That interface and the way the app works - I love. I can’t recommend the actual routines, but the usability gives this app a great potential if those can be adjusted, or if you happen to like the routines.
The first exercise is supposed to be a simple hum. It is a hum, alright, but not simple. 1.5 octave range, and makes you linger on the highest, too! If that’s the first exercise of my day without warming up - I’m gonna hurt my throat.
As I am going through the exercises they are almost all advanced and wide ranged. How is that supposed to get me ready for a performance while I am driving my car (that I don’t have)?
No alternatives to the lip trills, some people can’t do them. No explanation on what a connected sound is or how to achieve it.
If you have the tendency to strain while singing, this app will not help you at all, it will actually cause harm. Because you will reinforce the same wide range challenging exercise that you don’t know how to do.
Technical guidance: there's a mix of good and not so good here.
How to do the lip trills is explained here in a very helpful way, actually. That should be in the very first time he asks to do lip trills.
Some of the exercises actually feel good, like those starting with NG or G sounds. They could be really good further down the line.
What's not so good:
At some point Arnold says: remember to breathe. That’s a bit general, in my opinion. Not everyone breathes efficiently. Some use extra tension around the airway, some will hyperventilate. Especially beginners, but not only.
Passaggio exercise does not explain how it helps the passaggio, and is actually yet another version of the same one we repeated many times.
Can you use this app to warm up?
If you would like to use this app to warm up, but agree with me that the first routines are too hard, here is the order I would recommend:
- Number 4. On 2nd Warm up series
- Number 1. On 2nd Warm up series
- Number 8. On exercises
- Number 9. On exercises.
- Number 7. On exercises.
- Number 3. On 1st Warm up series
After that - feel free to play around with any of the routines
There is no explanation of the basics of the musical theory, assumes we know what a diatonic scale is and what major or minor thirds etc.
This is a good hearing training, but NOT if you got range issues. You can learn a bit about theory through singing, so that’s a nice way to do that.
That’s very big of Arnold to give a platform to other teachers on his own singing app!
Unfortunately, I don’t know that they contribute anything that will change my general opinion about the exercise build-up. Every guest brings some cool ideas, the recurring themes that I am not on board with are: lack of graduality (some of the guests are better with their first exercises, though) and lack of explanation of technique/musical theory.
*Bug alert: There is currently a bug in the app, under one of the guests’ tutorials. There are video options, but when clicked they cause a black screen from which you cannot retreat unless you restart your phone (BTW, I’m using an iphone).
Cute and useful feature, especially if you are out and about and in desperate need of a certain tone.
Easy to use